Confronting the realization that something is wrong

You may or may not have seen my recent post on the feeling that I grew up with, regarding feeling like nothing was allowed to be wrong with me and yet feeling like it was inevitable and even, rarely, a source of misplaced envy because of the attention it brings.

Well, last week I woke up with a sore jaw. Nothing too surprising there; my parents knew when I was a kid that I ground my teeth in my sleep sometimes, and when I’m stressed out, I wake up with a sore jaw. Only this time, it hurt later in the day when I tried to chew gum at work. Eating wasn’t especially fun, either. And then, over a bowl of cereal that was part of my dinner (hey, I’d just gotten back from the grocery store and had missed it!), the left side of my mouth went numb. My cheek felt weird and my molars, upper and lower, didn’t seem to exist at all. It felt scarily similar to the way my mouth had felt when the dentist numbed me for some minor fillings.

That was, when…Wednesday? I finally called the doctor today (Monday). Because – wait for it – I have a love/hate relationship with something being wrong with me! Guess what finally pushed me into deciding to call? My mom being worried about me. I can’t stand to have her worried. (That, and my friends are gently nagging me, too. They’re a bit gentler, since they are external to the nuclear family, and yet I also feel like I have to be okay to be strong enough to be the good, helpful friend I long to be for them.) Also, I have this habit of looking things up online and trying to self-diagnose, so I spent some time deciding that this pain is likely related to my tempromandibular joint being distressed. (This was bolstered by an actual comment by my last dentist that I had some TMJ issues and might want to consider a nighttime bite guard, which I haven’t yet purchased.)

I should also mention that I’m incredibly wary of doctors. If/when I can establish a relationship with them, we can work together very well. However, I’ve seen a lot of inattentive doctors as I’ve sat quietly in the background while Lily had her visits. There are doctors who are overwhelmed and doctors who don’t listen. Happily, I’ve found that there are doctors out there who care and who listen, even if in doing so they become popular and thus end up overwhelmed. That, and there are some spectacular nurses on the job, especially NPs and other highly educated, highly informed nurses. (I’ll also admit that my training in biology and some of my research have led me to know too much about what’s going on with my own health – let alone the lessons I’ve learned from Lily’s life! – and so I’m a difficult patient because I challenge or question a lot.)

It may be a relatively minor thing – just a muscle in spasm in a relatively rare place – but it’s still an interesting rollercoaster of emotion.


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